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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. H. Darwin   20 November 1873


Nov 20. 1873

My dear George

I have got to prepare a new ed. of the Descent, & in order to save my time I have been enquiring about literary & scientific men who wd undertake the work specified below—1

Before settling with any one I have thought that I wd inform you, as your mother thought that possibly you wd like to undertake it; that is if your health & other occupations permit you.2 I shd like your assistance better than that of any one; but I shd be greatly vexed if you undertook it against your better judgment.

It will be a tedious job. I shall have to modify & add much. Now I wish to write without the least care of style, attending only to the sense, & to have the words & arrangement of my sentences (when copied out) corrected. The whole book wd have to be gone through, on account of little corrections here & there inserted, which wd all require some consideration in regard to style & to what goes before & comes after. The book has been so often corrected that I do not think it likely that many of the old sentences are faulty. The numerical references to the foot-notes & wood-cuts wd have to be corrected, as new ones will be introduced. If the pages get altered the Headings will have to be attended to. I wd just glance over any corrections to my additions, & then send the whole to press, & I wish not to see the proof sheets, but have them corrected for me. I apprehend there wd only rarely be occasion for second proofs— So you see it is a considerable job, & take 2 or 3 days before you decide—

The whole work wd be far more satisfactory to me if you will let me pay you. Mr Bates3 who does such work tells me that 30 guineas wd be fair payment for correcting the book if it were a new one; there will be less labour as it is old in one way, & more on account of the additions, & therefore I shd like to pay 40 gs.

If you agree, keep this letter as a mem of what is to be done yours affectionately | Ch. Darwin


George Howard Darwin had been suffering with stomach problems (see letter from G. H. Darwin, [1 October 1873]); he was a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, working on geodesy (ODNB).
Henry Walter Bates.


ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


CD is looking for editorial assistance in preparing a new edition of Descent, and inquires whether GHD might be interested in taking on such a tedious job.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Howard Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 210.1: 17
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9157,” accessed on 27 November 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21